Why did I become a teacher?
It wasn’t for the pay.
My first teacher, an older lady with finely crafted white grey hair, read The Hobbit to me. The school was a Catholic school just off the New England Highway in the mountains of the New England region of New South Wales.
It was because of Mr Thomas. By year four, I wasn’t reading, I would barely write, I struggled with addition and multiplication. It soon changed. Mr Thomas had a rag bag bunch of boys. We played cricket. He taught us how to play hard and fair. He had a guitar strapped to his hip, playing folk songs and songs he wrote for his wife. He was the first teacher to sit next me, away from the front of the room. When I graduated from high school, he was there. He spoke to me, telling me he always knew I could do it.
It was because of Mr Tonks. As school captain, my final speech was unwritten ode to Phil Tonks. He was my maths teacher, but more importantly my year adviser. He would joke with us; he would take time to tell us that we were wrong. He would take the time to show. He would be there for us.
It was because of Mrs Forrest who read Lockie Leonard out loud to the class and when we tried to write like Tim Winton, she let us.
It was because of Mr Hogdes. An English teacher, who played bass in a band, who was my roll call teacher. He led us in discussion of the suspension of a fellow student for drug use, not for gossip, but because he didn’t want any of us to make the same mistakes.
It was because of Mrs Rowley. My year nine and ten English teacher would hand me books and say: read this. She was very clever, but never made us, a middle ranked group, feel like she was above us. She was the first one to read my strange rambling descriptions. One character, Stimpson J. Cat was born for her, until she told me it was time he moved on. I still have these note books with her scribbled notes and encouragements too.
It was because of Ms Pearce, who told me and showed me how to think for myself.
It was because of Dr Michaels’. Words, those dearest of things, matter, Doctor.
It was because of Ms Craven. She could notice things others couldn’t.
It was because of Mr Bennett. When I heard him read to his class an assessment task I had written and it sounded interesting and challenging, I knew I had done the right thing.
It wasn’t for the holidays.